Saturday Reads and Live Blog: Hillary’s Official Campaign Launch

Hillary smiling

Good Morning!!

The day we’ve all be waiting for since June 2008 has finally arrived! Hillary Clinton will officially begin her campaign for the presidency this morning on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. Let’s watch her speech together!

I signed up to get an email when the live feed begins on Hillary’s website. There doesn’t seems to be any other way to get the link–if you find one, please let us know. I assume CNN and other media outlets will be covering the event as well.

I’ll put up a second live blog if we need it.

Hillary’s big campaign kickoff

Hillary’s speech will reportedly focus on income inequality and how she would deal with the problem as president. From the AP, via ABC News: Clinton Calling for New Era of Shared Economic Prosperity.

At an outdoor rally Saturday on New York City’s Roosevelt Island, Clinton will portray herself as a fierce advocate for those left behind in the post-recession economy, detailing a lifetime of work on behalf of struggling families. She says her mother’s difficult childhood inspired what she considers a calling….

“Her story, her life, is she is someone who has always been advocating and fighting for someone else,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the Clinton campaign’s communications director….

Clinton is not expected to roll out specific policy proposals in her address. Aides say that will come in the following weeks on issues that include college affordability, jobs and the economy. She plans to give a policy address almost every week during the summer and fall, Palmieri said.

The rest of the article is criticism of Hillary’s “divisiveness” and her decision not to specifically address the Keystone Pipeline and the TPP. Sigh . . .

Yesterday Beata posted Hillary’s kickoff video, “Fighter.” Here it is again:

At NPR, Mara Liasson writes: How Would Hillary Clinton ‘Reshuffle’ Economic Inequality?

Clinton does talk about the economy a lot on the campaign trail, but so far only in broad strokes. She says she wants everyone to have the same chances she had — and that, as she said visiting a brewery in May, “here in Washington we know that unfortunately the deck is still being stacked for those at the top.”

She says that her job is to take that deck and “reshuffle the cards” but what does that mean?

“Paramount is how we’re going to have an economy that grows for everyone, that’s inclusive, in which middle class families and people struggling to get into the middle class can get ahead as the economy grows,” said Neera Tanden, an informal advisor to Clinton and president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress….

She’ll start spelling it all out Saturday in her big kick off speech. Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said that’s when Clinton will talk about the conditions of the country and “why people haven’t seen their wages rise even as we’ve seen private sector job growth come back in this country.”

He says she’ll also talk about “what she wants to do to make sure that people get ahead and stay ahead. She’ll lay out a template for that, and then through the course of the Summer and into the Fall she’ll get specific about what policies she thinks she’ can achieve to help people succeed in life,” he said.

In those Summer and Fall speeches, Clinton will lay out her plans for college affordability, early childhood education, Wall Street reform and paid family leave. At some point she will say exactly how high she wants the minimum wage to be, and how she’d finance big investments in infrastructure. And, her aides say, she’ll also eventually explain how she plans to solve one part of the income inequality puzzle — that even when profits and productivity go up, wages do not follow.

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You can also listen to Liasson’s interview with Tanden at NPR: Hillary Clinton To Address Economic Issues In Campaign Speech.

ABC News reports that the FAA has declared a no-fly zone during this morning’s rally.

Federal officials today took the rare step of creating a “no-fly zone” around the site of Hillary Clinton’s campaign kickoff rally in New York City on Saturday.

The Federal Aviation Administration established the protective zone in the form of a so-called “Notice to Airmen” announcing that a section along Manhattan’s East Side will be temporarily transformed into “national defense airspace.”

The FAA website lists the reason as “Temporary flight restrictions for VIP Movement” and cites the federal law that the FAA employs to ban flights over events attended by the president, vice president or other key dignitaries.

“The United States government may use deadly force against the airborne aircraft if it is determined that the aircraft poses an imminent security threat,” according to the notice….

“This is highly unusual,” a spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, told ABC News. The “no fly zones,” also known as “Temporary Flight Restrictions” are issued about 1,000 times a year, according to the association. But they usually are not issued for candidates for president….

City officials objected to the restriction because of the effect it is expected to have on popular sightseeing helicopters. The no-fly zone will not have any impact on commercial jets landing and taking off from nearby LaGuardia Airport.

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Speaking of city officials, The New York Times emphasizes that while most of New York City’s political elite will attend the event, Mayor Bill De Blasio chose not to accept his invitation. He told the Times that

I’m waiting to hear, as I said, her larger vision for addressing income inequality, and I look forward to that.

He’s beginning to look like a real jerk, IMO. But his effort to be a wet blanket isn’t going to have any effect. Does anyone but the Hillary-hating Times really care? I seriously doubt it.

Later tonight, Hillary will make her first campaign stop in Sioux City, Iowa. From the Sioux City Journal: Sioux City Democrats await Hillary Clinton visit Saturday.

Rick Mullin is excited to see Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Saturday evening, when she’s scheduled to make her first stop in Sioux City during the 2016 election cycle.

Mullin has met Clinton a few times, dating to 1996, when she was the nation’s first lady and Mullin was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

“One on one, she is exceptionally good. Very warm, she listens to you,” said Mullin, a former Woodbury County Democratic Party Chairman, from Sioux City.

Mullin will meet Clinton at an airport and follow that by attending her appearance at a Sioux City home.

Coming in her third swing of the Hawkeye state this year, it will be Clinton’s first event in Northwest Iowa. Saturday’s house party will be simulcast nationally. After having smaller stops in Iowa through Saturday, Clinton on Sunday will step up to larger events, with a town hall meeting planned for the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

More at the link.

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Of course the media is dying to know what Bill Clinton’s role will be in Hillary’s campaign. CNN got an interview with the former president that is going to run on Sunday morning: Bill Clinton opens up about his relationship with Hillary.

Bill and Hillary Clinton rarely talk about their relationship with one another. But in an interview set to air Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the former president opened up about the woman he said he trusts with his life.

“Whenever I had trouble, she was a rock in our family,” Clinton said during an emotional interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper in Denver.

“I trust her with my life, and have on more than one occasion,” he said, describing his wife as someone who helped him through some of the most trying times of his life.

Bill Clinton described how his wife helped him through years “plagued with self-doubt” in his late 20s and offered him someone to not only lean on, but to help guide him through perilous moments in his career.

“I was the youngest former governor in American history in 1980 on election night. I got killed in the Reagan landslide,” Clinton remembered. “People I had appointed to office would walk across the street, they were so afraid of the new regime in Arkansas, and would not shake hands with me. My career prospects were not particularly bright.”

“And she never blinked. She just said, ‘Hey. It’ll turn around. I believe in you. You’ve got this,'” he said.

Read more at the link.

Hillary

Bustle compiled from various sources, including the CNN interview: 8 Bill Clinton Quotes On Hillary Clinton And How She Inspired Him During Hard Times.

A couple more lightweight articles on Hillary’s campaign:

Billboard: How Hillary Clinton Is Soundtracking Her 2016 Presidential Campaign.,

Quartz: It’s official: Hillary Clinton’s logo is actually perfect.

News to discuss while we await Hillary’s big speech:

NYT: Suspects Open Fire Outside Dallas Police Headquarters.

CNN: Explosives found, suspect cornered after gunfire targets Dallas police HQ.

NYT: House Rejects Trade Measure, Rebuffing Obama’s Dramatic Appeal.

David Dayen at Salon: The Democrats’ TPP rebellion just drew blood. Everything you need to know about today’s shocking vote.

CBS DC: Dem Reps: Obama Became ‘Indignant’ On Capitol Hill, Visit ‘Absolutely’ Hurt Trade Bill

CNN: Race of Rachel Dolezal, head of Spokane NAACP, comes under question.

NAACP: NAACP STATEMENT ON RACHEL DOLEZAL.

Jonathan Capehart: The damage Rachel Dolezal has done.

The Federalist: If Rachel Dolezal Isn’t Black, How Is Caitlyn Jenner A Woman?

Mary Beth Williams at Salon: Stop making excuses for Rachel Dolezal: The Spokane NAACP official’s fraud is unforgivable

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WaPo: Chinese hack of federal personnel files included security-clearance database.

Politico: Newly disclosed hack got ‘crown jewels.’ ‘This is not the end of American human intelligence, but it’s a significant blow,’ a former NSA official says.

Think Progress: Romney’s E2 Summit.

LOL story from Politico: Mark Halperin, Ann Romney to host ‘Sunrise Pilates’ for GOP megadonors.

NBC News: What We Know: David Sweat and Richard Matt, Escaped Inmates, Still on the Run.

CNN: New York prison worker Joyce Mitchell charged with helping inmates escape.

Texas Observer: Federal Judges Disregard Impact of Abortion Law on Poor Women.

Mother Jones: The Supreme Court Could Make Abortion One of 2016’s Big Campaign Issues.

Mother Jones: A GOP Operative Just Got 2 Years in Prison For Breaking Super-PAC Rules.

Reuters, via Raw Story: Newly-released records show CIA in-house feud over inability to prevent 9/11 attacks.

Raw Story: Michigan adopts law to take away families’ food assistance if kids miss school.

The Weather Channel: When the Weather Changes, So Does Your DNA.

This is an open thread. Please join in.


Thursday Reads: The American Dream

The American Dream - post-war abundance

The American Dream – post-war abundance

Good Morning!!

What is the American Dream? Is it prosperity for everyone? Is it access to nature and a clean environment? Is it a good job, a house, a family? Is it a good education and the chance to be upwardly mobile? Is it a better future for your children and grandchildren? Is whatever it once was dead? Is it even worth talking about?

This morning there’s a Washington Post op-ed in which Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio describe their vision of “How to revive the American Dream.”

In this land of big dreams, there was never a dream bigger or more important than the one so deeply rooted in our values that it became known as the American Dream. Across generations, Americans shared the belief that hard work would bring opportunity and a better life. America wasn’t perfect, but we invested in our kids and put in place policies to build a strong middle class.

We don’t do that anymore, and the result is clear: The rich get richer, while everyone else falls behind. The game is rigged, and the people who rigged it want it to stay that way. They claim that if we act to improve the economic well-being of hard-working Americans — whether by increasing the minimum wage, reining in lawbreakers on Wall Street or doing practically anything else — we will threaten economic growth.

They are wrong.

That thinking is backward. A growing body of research — including work done by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and the Roosevelt Institute — shows clearly that an increasing disparity between rich and poor, cronyism and an economic system that works only for those at the top are bad for the middle class and bad for our economy.

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Warren and de Blasio are correct that the dream went terribly wrong after Ronald Reagan became president.

When the economy works for everyone, consumers have money to spend at businesses, and when businesses have more customers, they build more factories, hire more workers and sell more products — and the economy grows. For decades, our economy was built around this core understanding. We made big investments in the things that would create opportunities for everyone: public schools and universities; roads and bridges and power grids; research that spurred new industries, technologies — and jobs — here in the United States. We supported strong unions that pushed for better wages and working conditions, seeing those unions improve lives both for their members and for workers everywhere.

And it worked. From the 1930s to the late 1970s, as gross domestic product went up, wages increased more or less across the board. As the economic pie got bigger, pretty much everyone was getting a little more. That was how the United States built a great middle class.

Then in the early 1980s, a new theory swept the country. Its disciples claimed that if government policies took care of the rich and powerful, wealth would trickle down for everyone else. Trickle-down believers cut taxes sharply for those at the top and pushed for “deregulation” that hobbled the cops on Wall Street and let the most powerful corporations far too often do as they pleased.

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All very true. But how do we return to fairness and prosperity for everyone, not just the wealthy few? Warren and de Blasio offer a familiar list of government policies that could turn things around–read them at the link–but they don’t explain how to accomplish these goals in the age of Citizens United, a Republican-controlled congress, and a Supreme Court that favors the rights of corporations over those of individuals. How do we get past the hopelessness and inertia and get Americans to get out and vote for candidates who will stand up for the bottom 99%? How do we even find those candidates?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m basically an optimist and I always have hope for change. But how do we get there from here?

I do think there are some positives signs.

Hillary Clinton is beginning to convince some folks that she’s really a separate person from her husband–a more liberal candidate than he was in the 1990s. In fact Bill Clinton might be more liberal now too. Despite what the Villagers preach, people can change and grow and develop new ideas an opinions. Imagine that Chris Cillizza!

American dream Tbird

One journalist who seems to be catching on is Charles Pierce. Here’s what he had to say yesterday: One Of These Is Not Like The Others: Two Clintons, No Waiting.

For all the noise about e-mails and honoraria, and all the passive-aggressive nostalgia for the Great Penis Chase of the 1990’s, something very interesting has been going on with Rodham Clinton’s campaign since she announced its official launch….

All during her husband’s administration, HRC was considered to be the more progressive of the two. She supported the accommodations he made to get re-elected, some of which were pretty damned ghastly. She also was one of the most vocal in defense of that administration against the organized ratfking that sought to destroy it. (The only mistake she made, as Calvin Trillin pointed out at the time was that she referred to a “vast right-wing conspiracy” rather than a creepy little cabal.) I once had a long conversation with a former Clinton lawyer. He told me that, if there were 1000 people in a room, and 999 thought Bill Clinton was a direct descendant of Jesus Christ, and one of them thought he was the spawn of Satan, Clinton would seek out that one person and spend the rest of the night and all the following day trying to change that person’s mind. That is not something anyone ever has said about Ms. Rodham Clinton. The edges of her triangulations are all sharp ones.

All of this is to point out that not only is the whole “two for the price of one” trope beloved of people whose politics came of age in the 1990’s outdated and inadequate, but so is the political strategy of the first Clinton Administration. Clinton herself seems to be acknowledging this political reality. She started talking on economics like Elizabeth Warren. Her speech on criminal justice reform was aimed at excesses many of which have roots in her husband’s law-and-order compromises in the mid-1990’s. (So, it should be noted, do many of the Patriot Act’s more controversial provisions.) For the moment, I choose to believe this is not merely a bow to political expedience, but something genuine and, if progressives are smart, infinitely exploitable.

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Most of them will never get it, but maybe, just maybe Hillary can get her message out to the people who count–voters–and get them fired up enough to go to the polls in November 2016.

I also think it’s a good sign that Bernie Sanders has decided to run for president. No, he has no chance in hell of getting the nomination, but he might be able to get the media to publicize some of his ideas. He could also be a foil for Hillary, giving her an opportunity to draw attention to her more innovative and liberal ideas. Some of the latest news about Bernie’s efforts:

Reuters: Why socialist Bernie Sanders may just shake up the 2016 presidential race, by Robert Borosage.

Sanders is a funhouse mirror image of Clinton. She has universal name recognition (by her first name), unlimited funds, national campaign experience and a powerhouse political operation. He has scant name recognition, paltry funds, no national campaign experience and hasn’t begun to build a campaign staff. With a net-worth ranking among the lowest in the Senate, Sanders can be an authentic populist — the real deal. As one supporter said, he is the candidate of the “12-hour filibuster and the $12 haircut.”

Sanders’s announcement was treated with respect by a press corps eager for any kind of race on the Democratic side. Pundits dismiss his chances in part because Clinton is expected to raise a billion dollars or more for her campaign. Sanders hopes to raise $50 million.

But Sanders is likely to do far more than exceed low expectations. His candidacy could have a dramatic effect in building an already growing populist movement inside and outside the Democratic Party.

As Sanders made clear in his announcement, his focus will be on the central challenges facing this country: an economy that does not work for the vast majority of its citizens and a politics corrupted by big money and entrenched interests.

Sanders refuses to take part in politicians’ usual, incessant pursuit of large donations. So he is a political rarity: Someone free to speak forcefully to the often insidious connection between the two.

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Will people pay attention? I think it’s possible. So does David Horsey of the LA Times: Bernie Sanders’ ‘socialism’ may have mainstream appeal.

Finally, conservatives have a real socialist to go crazy about. Instead of concocting dark fairytales about how Barack Obama, a very conventional liberal Democrat, is a secret Marxist who wants to destroy the American way of life, they can shriek about Bernie Sanders, the independent Vermont senator who has never shied away from the socialist label.

Sanders is now the first person to challenge Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race to win the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination. Clinton, though, is not his real adversary, Sanders says. He refuses to make disparaging comments about Clinton and insists he has never run an attack ad in any campaign and will not do so against her. Sanders wants to take on the billionaires, not Hillary.

Nobody gives the 73-year-old Sanders a chance of stopping the Clinton political juggernaut, but some think he could make it veer to the left. If the Vermonter gets traction in debates and primaries with his unabashedly progressive positions, Clinton might be forced to match at least some of his rhetoric. Would that be a bad thing for Democrats? Not if enough beleaguered middle class voters get a chance to consider what Sanders’ version of “socialism” entails and like what they see.

Go to the LA Times link to read Horsey’s list of Sanders’ ideas that could interest voters.

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Sam Stein at Huffington Post: Bernie Sanders Raises $3 Million In Four Days.

With the help of a crew of former aides to President Barack Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) campaign has raised $3 million in four days for his presidential campaign — a dramatic indication that he won’t be confined simply to a long-shot role in the Democratic primary.

Sanders, who is running for president as a Democrat, announced on Wednesday that he has retained the services of the firm Revolution Messaging to run digital ads and online fundraising. The staffers with the firm who will be working on Sanders’ campaign include Revolution Messaging’s founder, Scott Goodstein, who ran the 2008 Obama campaign’s social media and mobile programs; Arun Chaudhary, who was the first official White House videographer; Shauna Daly, who served as deputy research director on Obama’s 2008 campaign; and Walker Hamilton, who was a lead programmer for that campaign.

“Like a lot of Obama supporters, we were looking for a candidate with a track record of doing the right thing — even if it meant taking on Wall Street billionaires and other powerful interests. A candidate who could inspire a movement,” said Goodstein. “Bernie Sanders is that candidate.”

Due to his long-standing criticism of the influence of big-money interests on government, Sanders has strong online and grassroots appeal, which he hopes to leverage to raise the money needed to fund a presidential campaign. And so far, the strategy looks savvy. The campaign has received roughly 75,000 contributions, and the average amount is $43. According to a campaign adviser, 99.4 percent of the donations have been $250 or less, and 185,000 supporters have signed up on the website BernieSanders.com.

Not bad.

What do you think? What does the American Dream represent for you?

As always, this is an open thread. Post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and have a terrific Thursday!


Lazy Saturday Reads

Diner, by Kevin Mizner

Diner, by Kevin Mizner

 

Good Morning!!

You’ve  probably heard by now that Donna Douglas, who played Elly Mae Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies, died on Thursday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was either 81 or 82, depending on which news source you read. I wasn’t a fan of the show, but it was hard not to be aware of it; and I did see it from time to time in reruns. From the LA Times:

The show — about the down-home Clampetts who strike it rich with an Ozarks oil well and move to California — became an immediate hit when it began airing on CBS in 1962. It starred Buddy Ebsen as patriarch Jed, Irene Ryan as Granny, Max Baer Jr. as Jethro and Douglas as Elly May, a buxom tomboy character who had curly blond pigtails, wore gingham and blue jeans and loved her “critters.” ….

After winning beauty contests in her home state, Douglas headed to New York City in the mid-1950s in search of modeling jobs and wound up on television as a billboard girl on “The Steve Allen Show.” She took acting lessons and landed a few parts in other TV series before writer and producer Paul Henning asked her if she thought she’d be right for his new show, “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

“I just looked at him and grinned,” Douglas told AP Hollywood reporter Bob Thomas in 1965. “Could I handle Elly May? Why, it was just like my own life.” ….

She had to retrieve the Southern accent she had tried to lose, and she had no trouble with the dogs, skunks, mountain lion, chimpanzee and other animals Elly May adored on the series.

“I loved doing Elly May,” the actress would recall. “And, of course, ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ was a story about the American dream. No matter who tried to slicker us or take advantage of us, we always came out on top. We were never the losers. We set a good example.”

I hadn’t realized until I read it in the Times obituary, that Donna Douglas also appeared in one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes ever.

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Douglas appeared for just a few minutes in the final moments of the second season episode, “The Eye of the Beholder,” written by series creator Rod Serling. The episode aired in 1960, years before “The Beverly Hillbillies” in 1962. But unlike “Hillbillies,” where her good looks were used as a punch line, here they became part of a ghoulish twist. In fact, it was one of the best, and most memorable, twist endings in the show’s history.

The episode recounted the recovery of a woman named Janet Tyler after a series of medical procedures attempting to fix a face that has apparently been completely deformed. While she deals with the doctors and nurses in the hospital, we see her head wrapped completely in bandages.

In fact, it was actress Maxine Stuart who played Tyler for these scenes. But in the episode’s final moments, the bandages are removed and Tyler’s face is revealed to be Douglas’.

“No change. No change at all,” the doctor laments. And then we see the face of the medical staff — snouted and horrific. But in this world, it’s Douglas’ face that’s the monstrosity.

This ending is regularly listed among the top “Twilight Zone” endings of all time, and the image of a horrified Douglas being restrained by the bizarre-looking doctor is one that’s made its way onto many T-shirts and posters.

Here’s that final scene. The sound is a little low, but you’ll get the idea.

Here’s the full episode:

Douglas later appeared in another Twilight Zone episode, “Cavender Is Missing,” and was a guest on many television programs, including Bachelor Father, 77 Sunset Strip, Adam 12, Night Gallery, Route 66, and Surfside 6.

Also on Thursday, instant karma struck Florida State University, its football team, and quarterback/accused rapist Jameis Winston when the team got blown out by Oregon in the Rose Bowl, thanks to Winston’s poor performance. From The Washington Post: It all implodes on Jameis Winston.

Florida State had not lost a game since November 2012, and quarterback Jameis Winston was personally undefeated since high school. That stretch included a national championship last season, plus a Heisman Trophy for Winston….

In the first-ever College Football Playoff semifinal game, the Seminoles were trailing at halftime, 18-13, but that seemed no cause for worry, as the team had staged second-half comebacks all season. Even after a pair of fumbles by FSU running back Dalvin Cook had helped Oregon take a 39-20 lead late in the third quarter, it still seemed entirely possible that Winston could lead his team back.

Down 19 points, Florida State faced a fourth-and-5 situation and decided to go for it. That’s when the previously unflappable Winston committed a mind-boggling turnover:

Whoa!! (Read twitter reactions at the WaPo link.)

On the sidelines, lip-readers picked up FSU Coach Jimbo Fisher telling Winston something that looked like, “If you don’t calm the [expletive] down, you’re going to the bench.”

Winston did not calm, um, down, at least if an interception on his second throw after that costly fumble was any indication. Eventually, Winston did go to the bench, but that was mostly because the game proceeded to get even more out of hand.

It was 59-20 when backup quarterback Sean Maguire entered the game, and that’s how it ended. Winston is widely expected to declare for the NFL draft, meaning that the Rose Bowl was almost certainly his last college game, and it certainly did not go the way he wanted.

You have to wonder if any NFL team will want to sign Winston considering the league’s current problem with domestic violence.

Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston

After the game, Oregon players taunted Winston by chanting “no means no” along with the crowd. Th

Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said in a statement to the Associated Press that the behavior was inappropriate.

“This is not what our program stands for, and the student-athletes will be disciplined internally,” Helfrich said.

Winston was never charged after a woman accused him of raping her in 2012.

Oregon has its own problems with sexual assaults by athletes.

Three former basketball players were suspended in June for a minimum of four years after a freshman student filed a report alleging they sexually assaulted her. Prosecutors decided there wasn’t enough evidence to charge the players, who said the sexual contact was consensual.

Winston was recently  “cleared” of wrongdoing in a joke of a hearing; Vice obtained a published the entire transcript. Read all about it at the link.

This is so sad. A 7-year-0ld girl who survived a plane crash that killed the rest of her family went in search of help.

Larry Wilkins, 71, was watching the local news at his Buckberry Trail home at around 6:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. ET) when he said he heard a knock.

 “The little girl come to my door,” Wilkins told NBC News in a telephone interview late Friday. “She was bleeding pretty bad, her legs were bleeding, her face had a bloody nose. She was barefoot, only had one sock on.”

“She told me that her mom and her dad were dead, and she was in a plane crash, and the plane was upside down,” he said. “She asked if she could stay here. I said, ‘Honey, what can I do for you?’ I got a wash cloth and cleaned her up. And of course called 911.”

Marty Gutzler, 49, and Kimberly Gutzler, 45; their daughter, 9-year-old Piper Gutzler; and Sierra Walder, 14, Piper’s cousin were killed in the crash, according to Kentucky State Police. The identity of the 7-year-old survivor was not released. The victims were from Nashville, Illinois, police said.

So heartbreaking. I hope that brave little girl has other family members who will take care of her.

Hundreds of NYPD officers turn their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio at funeral of fallen officer Rafael Ramos.

Hundreds of NYPD officers turn their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio at funeral of fallen officer Rafael Ramos.

Many NYPD officers are continuing their long-running tantrum against NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. They’re enraged because de Blasio said that he has warned his black son to be careful in any interactions with police. Because de Blasio dared to tell the truth, the police union has instigated a work slowdown; and officers have turned their backs on the mayor in at least two public appearances, including the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos. The New York Times editorialized about this disgraceful behavior twice. As the editors point out, de Blasio campaigned on ending the unconstitutional “stop and frisk” policy and reforming “policing excesses.” The editors stated that the public wants NYPD officers to

1. Don’t violate the Constitution.

2. Don’t kill unarmed people.

3. Do your jobs.

Meanwhile, according to Think Progress, some NYC residents are “benefiting from the NYPD’s work stoppage.”

As a result of what the New York Post is calling a “virtual work stoppage,” tickets and summonses for minor offenses have plummeted by 94 percent and overall arrests have fallen 66 percent. Theoretically, the practice will strain police budgets, which rely on fines from tickets to make-up for funding shortfalls. ​

Although it’s not the intended goal of the work stoppage, the decline in arrests could save New Yorkers money. The city residents who are normally hit with tickets for minor violations tend to be low income individuals who are forced to pay up a hefty portion of their paychecks.

The city began following the broken-windows style of policing in the early 1980s, a strategy championed by NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton which focuses on eliminating low-level crime to prevent more violent offenses in the city’s neighborhoods. But a report earlier this year by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan found that the NYPD’s practice of arresting more people for minor offenses since 1980 has disproportionately affected young black and Latino men.

While de Blasio and Bratton have followed through on their promise to reform the city’s stop and frisk practices and the mayor announced in November that police would stop making arrests for low-level marijuana possessions, there are still racial biases in police practices throughout the city that result in a tougher financial burden on those already struggling to make ends meet.

And New Yorkers of all income levels are also saving money on one of the most consistent ways the city can slam people with tickets— parking violations are down by 92 percent, from 14,699 to just 1,241 this year.

A few more headlines:

A rescued sea turtle is recovering after washing ashore a Wellfleet beach. (Image Credit: New England Aquarium)

A rescued sea turtle is recovering after washing ashore a Wellfleet beach. (Image Credit: New England Aquarium)

CBS Boston, Large Sea Turtle Rescued From Cape Cod Beach.

Weather.com, Hundreds of Sea Turtles Are Washing Up on New England Shores, and Experts Don’t Know Why.

Gizmodo, Why the Flu Vaccine Doesn’t Always Work.

CNN, Scientists: Random gene mutations primary cause of cancer.

CNN World, What killed the Maya? ‘Blue Hole’ offers clues.

Nature World News, Audubon Bird Watchers Get an ‘Unusual’ Show, this New Year.

AP via USA Today, Accused plotter of U.S. embassy bombings dies in N.Y.

BBC News, UK Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey ‘in critical condition’.

The Guardian, Prince Andrew named in US lawsuit over underage sex claims.

More about this at Politico, Woman who sued convicted billionaire over sex abuse levels claims at his friends.

and The Daily Mail, Prince Andrew ‘lobbied the US government to go easy on Jeffrey Epstein’: Palace denies claims royal tried to use his influence to help billionaire paedophile during 2008 police probe 

 

 


Lazy Caturday Reads

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Good Morning!!

It’s a winter Saturday, a good day to stay in a comfy bed for awhile, relax, and catch up on the latest news. So let’s see what’s happening out there today.

First up, the all-important weather forecast. I know you won’t be surprised to learn there are more winter storms on the way. From the Weather Channel: Winter Storm Maximus Brings Snow, Ice to Midwest, South, East, Rockies Through Monday.

Winter Storm Maximus, the 13th named storm of the winter season in the U.S., will have deposited a wintry mess from coast to coast by the time it is finally over Monday.

This storm will have multiple waves of snow, sleet and freezing rain sweeping west to east across the country.

First, snow will taper off over parts of the southern and central Rockies. A few additional inches of snow are expected over the mountains of Colorado and northern New Mexico. This storm will drop snow in the west, parts of the South and Midwest and then move into upstate New York and Northern New England. It’s not yet clear what we’ll be getting in the northeast, but right now we are expecting a warm weekend, and the storm shouldn’t interfere with the Super Bowl tomorrow.

another wave of wintry precipitation kicks off early Sunday in the Southern Plains, spreading to the Ozarks and the Mid-South region Sunday afternoon, then sweeping quickly through the Tennessee Valley, Appalachians and East Sunday night and Monday.

Snow accumulations look most likely in a stripe from northwest Texas into parts of Oklahoma, northern Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virgina, and Virginia with several inches of accumulation possible. Parts of northwest Texas and southern Oklahoma near the Red River could measure up to around six inches of snow.

“Maximus” will be closely followed by Winter Storm Nika, which will bring “widespread” snow and ice to the Plains, the Great Lakes, and the Northeast. Tomorrow is Ground Hog Day, but whether or not the sleepy rodent sees his shadow, it looks like winter is going to continue unabated.

In Georgia, where people are still trying to recover from their state government’s failure to prepare for a winter storm that had been predicted for two days beforehand, investigators are still trying assign blame for the massive f&ck-up.

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From the Atlanta Journal-Contitution: Storm debacle ‘case study’ of emergency management failure.

After two inches of snow turned Georgia into a national punch line, the state’s top disaster responder was cast as one of the debacle’s chief enablers. But the performance of state emergency management director Charley English is only part of larger-scale breakdown of the emergency management system, records and interviews reveal.

Records show there were failures up and down the line before and during Tuesday’s storm.

The performance of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency Tuesday is “a case study in how things can go badly,” said Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.

It’s also a case study in what can happen if you keep electing Republicans who hate government and don’t believe it has a role in public problem-solving. According to the article, Gov. Nathan Deal and other government officials had plenty of warning that the storm was going to hit Atlanta, yet they did next to nothing to prepare. Read all the gory details at the link.

At The National Memo, Joe Conason provides an example of how government has worked well in two blood-red states: Universal Pre-K? Ask Republicans In Georgia And Oklahoma — And Then Ask Grover Norquist.

Among the biggest policy mistakes of the past 50 years is our continuing failure to provide quality early childhood education to all of America’s kids. For children, families, and society as a whole, the benefits of “universal pre-K” are not only significant and well documented, but offset the financial cost many times over. Although we’ve been aware of these basic facts since the early Sixties, most politicians have preferred to squander billions of dollars on malfunctioning weaponry, catastrophic wars, and petroleum subsidies….

Even if there were no economic upside to starting the education of every child at three or four years of age, the obvious social benefits would vital for any country that aspires to cultivating a vibrant democratic republic. Citizens who can read and do math (and perhaps take an interest in science!) are more likely to succeed at self-government. They are also far more likely to succeed in life.

Enhancing personal opportunity is how universal pre-school generates universal public savings — estimated by a large cohort of studies to lie somewhere between 7 and 17 dollars for every single dollar spent.  Human brains mostly develop well before age five, so children who attend quality pre-school enter kindergarten with social skills, confidence, and knowledge that boosts achievement for many years.

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So what happened in Georgia and Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, where every child has been entitled to free pre-school since 1998, a well-known study by Georgetown University educators found substantially improved cognitive skills and test scores among Tulsa students who had attended public pre-K. The program made the difference between falling below national norms and moving up to achieve them. In Georgia, first to implement universal state-funded pre-school almost 20 years ago, painstaking research has likewise showed gains in math and reading that lasted through eighth grade, especially among underprivileged rural and urban children.

What about Grover Norquist? According to Conason he sends his own kids to D.C.’s free public pre-school program, despise his avowed opposition to taxes of any kind. Maybe some of those right wing Congresspeople should have a talk with him about early childhood education.

It’s looking more and more like the Keystone XL Pipeline will be approved, according to the NYT:

The State Department released a report on Friday concluding that the Keystone XL pipeline would not substantially worsen carbon pollution, leaving an opening for President Obama to approve the politically divisive project.

The department’s long-awaited environmental impact statement appears to indicate that the project could pass the criteria Mr. Obama set forth in a speech last summer when he said he would approve the 1,700-mile pipeline if it would not “significantly exacerbate” the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. Although the pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to the Gulf Coast, the report appears to indicate that if it were not built, carbon-heavy oil would still be extracted at the same rate from pristine Alberta forest and transported to refineries by rail instead.

The report sets up a difficult decision for Secretary of State John Kerry, who now must make a recommendation on the international project to Mr. Obama. Mr. Kerry, who hopes to make action on climate change a key part of his legacy, has never publicly offered his personal views on the pipeline. Aides said Mr. Kerry was preparing to “dive into” the 11-volume report and would give high priority to the issue of global warming in making the decision. His aides offered no timetable.

If so, there will be pushback from indigenous Americans: Keystone XL ‘black snake’ pipeline to face ‘epic’ opposition from Native American alliance.

A Native American alliance is forming to block construction of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline which still needs final approval from U.S. President Barack Obama after the State Department released an environmental report indicating the project wouldn’t have a significant impact Alberta tar sands production.

Members from the seven tribes of the Lakota Nation, along with tribal members and tribes in Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana, Nebraska and Oregon, have been preparing to stop construction of the 1,400 kilometre pipeline which is slated to run, on the U.S. side, from Morgan, Mon., to Steel City, Neb., and pump 830,000 barrels per day from Alberta’s tar sands. The pipeline would originate in Hardisty, Alta.

“It poses a threat to our sacred water and the product is coming from the tar sands and our tribes oppose the tar sands mining,” said Deborah White Plume, of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, which is part of the Lakota Nation in South Dakota. “All of our tribes have taken action to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Read the rest at the link.

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The Economist has an interesting article about the Winter Olympic games and Vladimir Putin’s Russia: Sochi or bust: The conspicuous dazzle of the games masks a country, and a president, in deepening trouble

FEBRUARY 7th sees the opening of the winter Olympics in Sochi on the Black Sea. The message of the games is simple: “Russia is back”. Sochi was planned as a celebration of Russia’s resurgence, a symbol of international recognition and a crowning moment for Vladimir Putin, its president, who for the present seems to have seen off all his challengers.

Appropriately, the opening ceremony will include the image of the Russian “troika-bird” from Nikolai Gogol’s “Dead Souls”. “Rus,” wrote Gogol, “aren’t you soaring like a spry troika that can’t be overtaken? The road is smoking under you, the bridges thunder, everything steps aside and is left behind!…Is this lightning thrown down from heaven? Other nations and states gaze askance, step off the road and give [you] right of way.”

The quote has long been used to justify Russian exceptionalism and moral superiority. Gogol describes Russia as a deeply flawed and corrupt country, but it is precisely its misery and sinfulness that entitles it to mystical regeneration. His troika carries a swindler, Chichikov, and his drunken coachman, but it is transformed into the symbol of a God-inspired country that gloriously surpasses all others.

So, too, with the Sochi Olympics. This grand enterprise, the largest construction project in Russia’s post-Soviet history, is also a microcosm of Russian corruption, inefficiencies, excesses of wealth and disregard for ordinary citizens. The Olympics are widely seen as an extravagant caprice of Russia’s rulers, especially its flamboyantly macho president, rather than a common national effort. The cost of the games has more than quadrupled since 2007, making them, at $50 billion, the most expensive in history. One member of the International Olympic Committee thinks about a third of that money has been stolen. Russia’s opposition leaders say the figure is much higher.

Check it out. It’s a long read, but worthwhile, IMO.

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There’s some good news out of New York City, now that neo-facist Mayor Mike Bloomberg is gone. It looks like the “stop and frisk” policy will end soon: Mayor Says New York City Will Settle Suits on Stop-and-Frisk Tactics.

New York City will settle its long-running legal battle over the Police Department’s practice of stopping, questioning and often frisking people on the street — a divisive issue at the heart of the mayoral race last year — by agreeing to reforms that a judge ordered in August, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday.

In making the announcement, which he said he hoped would end a turbulent chapter in the city’s racial history, Mr. de Blasio offered a sweeping repudiation of the aggressive policing practices that had been a hallmark of his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, but that had stoked anger and resentment in many black and Latino neighborhoods. He essentially reversed the course set by Mr. Bloomberg, whose administration had appealed the judge’s ruling.

“We’re here today to turn the page on one of the most divisive problems in our city,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference. “We believe in ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk that has unfairly targeted young African-American and Latino men.”

That’s great news, but I wish he had noted that women have also been targeted, often in sexually abusive ways.

I’ll wrap this up and put my remaining links in the comment thread. I hope you’ll do the same. Please let us know what stories you’ve found interesting today.

Have a great weekend everyone!!